Building a digital presence for your startup is one of the key elements that can make a significant difference between its ultimate success and failure. In the contemporary era of the internet, having a virtual storefront is much more effective in getting higher sales.
Entrepreneurs setting up a business should start off with an online store which is more economical since it eliminates the overhead costs of day-to-day running. Whether or not you have a physical store, developing a website to showcase your products and services can give you exposure sooner.
That’s possibly one of the reasons why most entrepreneurs begin advertising on digital platforms even before they’re ready to launch their products in the open market. Not quite sure why? Let’s start off by taking a look at some statistics.
87% of Customers Begin Product Searches Online
Before making a decision about the particular product or services they wish to buy, customers begin by doing an online search.
They’ll compare the features of the different brands and prices available within a particular radius of a few miles around where they live. 65% of shoppers check videos online that show how the product performs. Potential buyers also read up on the reviews from users and influencers and find out about their experiences with the product.
By the time the customer reaches the physical store, they will have more or less selected the brand and model they intend to buy with a close estimate of what they’re expecting to spend.
You Need a Digital Presence to be Found
If you hope to attract customers to your retail store, it’s close to impossible without a virtual store that can be found when people are searching. If shoppers like what they see online, you can expect them to arrive at your doorstep for a closer look and to possibly make a purchase.
Most entrepreneurs step into the market with an amazing business idea that they’re sure will bring in footfall and sales. You might even have an advertising and sales strategy that will get word of your products to the right audience. Even so, the first move in the right direction is the development of a website and a social media presence to establish you as an authority in your field.
Building an Online Identity Needs a Well-Structured Game Plan
Building a digital presence can be a daunting task for the non-techie. To say that the project is overwhelming, time-consuming, and totally confusing would be an understatement. However, by following a detailed step-by-step plan (and, well, practicing a lot of persistence and patience!), you can create a robust website that draws customers to your retail store. Here’s how:
1. Your New Company Needs a Strong Brand Profile - Start with That!
A brand is an integral part of your digital presence and is more than just about a logo, some fonts, graphic designs, and a color scheme. Even if you’ve chosen to use your name, the brand should tell a story. Create a persona for the company that is identifiable as the face of the product that you’re launching right now, and also applies to any new ones in the future. Use your social media sites to talk about the theme, mission, and goals of the business and to develop a relationship of trust with your audience.
2. Build a Website Using Platforms like Wix
Think of your website as a virtual store that customers find online when searching for specific keywords. This store should provide all the information that people need about the products and services you sell. A successful website has several features that help visitors find what they’re looking for quickly. Fast loading times keep people engaged. Easy navigation that lets viewers jump to the pages they want is another essential. Shoppers want a good reason why they should buy your products and the sooner you can give it to them, the higher your chances of making a sale.
Platforms like Wix help you create a website that has that “wow” factor that becomes conversions. If you intend to get assistance from expert developers to help you build your website and digital presence, make sure to rely on professionals that have acquired accreditation from reliable online academies, just as the folks at PocketPrep advise.
3. Informative Content is the Backbone of a Great Website
Content is the information you provide to the visitors landing on your website. The quality of your web pages has significance in more ways than one. To begin with, publishing articles and blogs that educate and inform the reader has the potential to boost the audience’s faith in your industry expertise. That raises the probability that they’ll choose to invest in your products.
Each time visitors land on your website, anticipate that they’ll spend a maximum of 15 seconds looking around. If you can hold their interest for that time, they could be persuaded to examine your products more closely and perhaps place an order.
Secondly, high-grade content with the necessary keywords and key phrases have the power to get you traffic from search engines like Google and Bing. Keep in mind that Google search bots are constantly crawling the web looking for reliable websites that they can display on their search pages in response to queries from users. Designing your web pages so that Google picks them up is an intricate process. You’ll probably need to get an expert in Search Engine Optimization, or “SEO,” as the process is called for short. However, the key is getting not just more traffic, but also getting relevant traffic. You’ll want to attract visitors that are interested in and likely to buy your products.
A robust digital presence can be achieved by providing well-structured information that establishes you as a knowledgeable and reliable source. Bullet points, sub-headings, images, embedding videos, and short paragraphs are critical for visual appeal and ranking well on search engine pages. If you can gain top slots on the pages, you’ll have a higher likelihood of users clicking on your website link and landing on the pages. Various other factors can influence your ranking such as keywords, meta tags, meta descriptions, SEO title, and image Alt texts.
4. Learn, Improvise, Evolve, Enhance
Even as you’re constantly innovating and creating new products and services for your customers, make sure that your website evolves with the business. Publish new content that projects your offerings in the best light possible. Provide information that is relevant to the changing times. Explore what works and what doesn’t, and identify what the audience is interested in reading about.
Choose the population demographic that you wish to target and design the content with them in mind. For instance, if you’re selling baby products, design your content to appeal to parents and caregivers. You’ll also want to pay careful attention to proofreading, editing, and overall presentation. You want to be prepared in case a video, image, snippet, or a slogan goes viral and brings you great traffic.
5. Sign Up for Online Tools to Measure Your Website Performance
You can sign up for various online tools that provide valuable data about the performance of your website. For instance, Moz Pro, Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, and Lighthouse Audit, to name a few. These applications provide you information about how your website is performing in terms of the pages that are ranking and the traffic you’re getting. You’ll also receive accurate details about the time for which users stay on a specific page and the particular pages that convert into sales.
If you’ve been adding new products or using upgraded advertising strategies, the metrics provided by these tools help you understand the success rates. This information will help you design further marketing plans and work out where you need to improve. The best day of the week and time of the day to post new content, and the best channels to connect with your audience are other helpful data you can use to work on. For instance, if you find that the highest click-through rates are on Friday nights, that would be the best time to post new blogs and articles.
6. Social Media Platforms Contribute to Your Digital Presence in a Big Way
Building a digital presence on every social media platform is not necessary, and you’ll want to pick and choose the ones that relate best to your target audience. For instance, you absolutely need pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube, for starters. But, if your business provides services, you’ll focus on building a digital presence on platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Linkedin. Since these advertising channels are free of cost, you must take the time to share relevant information that viewers would like to read. Include infographics, videos, images, and text messages that are intriguing but concise.
While social media pages are a great way to showcase your products, you’ll also want to stay updated with the latest trends. Post new content regularly, preferably with links going back to your sites. The inverse is also true. Your website should be integrated with social media so that readers liking your products or information can share it with friends and family via different platforms. Respond to the comments that users post and engage customers by answering and resolving any issues they might have. Guest blogging and commenting on online forums also help build a digital presence.
An added advantage of these platforms is that you’ll keep your finger on the pulse of the market. Comments give you insights into what the audience expects to see so you can improve existing products or launch new ideas that match the needs of your customers.
7. Provide a Secure Shopping Experience
An important facet of any business trying to be successful in any industry is the facility of ordering products online and getting them delivered at home. Fast-paced lifestyles and long working hours have pushed people into shopping over the internet. However, in a time when cybersecurity and data breaches are a real threat, you absolutely must ensure that your e-commerce website is a secure platform. Statistics clearly indicate that 65% of startups are likely to become the target of a hacking incident in 2020 And, once affected, at least 60% of businesses fail within the next six months.
Prevent this situation in your company by relying on agencies that provide security solutions. You’ll hire professionals to install the necessary software to defend your online business. You’ll also get firewalls and malware protection along with employee training to educate them about phishing attacks. Like the professionals at HackEDU suggest, you must also have white hat ethical hackers on your team, who identify the flaws in your security systems and advise you on how to protect them.
8. Offer Discounts and Free Stuff
Customers love to get discounts on merchandise and receive free stuff with their purchases. Organize marketing campaigns from time to time where you make announcements on social media about the freebies you’re giving away. In exchange, request for email addresses so you can contact recipients about new products and promotions. Conduct competitions where people answer a simple question or submit a creative design or a new idea for a slogan that you can use for the upcoming product.
Typically, giveaways are inexpensive and you can order a batch for prices as low as a few dollars a pop. But, the return on investment (ROI) is significant in terms of the digital presence you acquire, customer engagement, and the possibility of passive advertising. As long as people continue to use your freebies, they’ll promote your brand name and products.
Creating a digital presence can seem challenging, but it is an effective marketing strategy with the potential to connect with the right audience who’ll likely want to buy your products. Use your website and social media platforms to create an online persona that is recognizable and trusted. Select the niches where you wish to make a mark, carefully and you’re sure to get the maximum returns from the time and effort you invest. Stay motivated and patient, and let your website weave its magic.
Tricia Lewis is the executive VP of HackEDU, which produces and delivers best-in-class interactive cybersecurity training.